Five Stupid Lawsuits: You Don't Like It, Sue Me
Mr. Simpson, the state bar forbids me from promising you a big cash settlement. But just between you and me, I promise you a biiiig cash settlement.
-Lionel Hutz, "Bart Gets Hit by a Car", the Simpsons (1991)
When I was a kid, a nearby neighbor was a medical drug distributor. A friend and I were doing what kids do, walking around and taking shortcuts through backyards, looking for something to occupy our ever-inquisitive minds. In the aforementioned neighbor's trashcans, we noticed all these little pieces of something, individually wrapped in clear cellophane, with more colors than a rainbow. Some were blue and some were red. Plus white, purple, orange tidbits everywhere.
“Look at all that candy,” we said. We had hit the mother lode. The big rock candy dustbin. And so we each ate a blue one. It didn't taste too good, but maybe the red ones would taste better. They didn't. Nor did the white, or the purple, or the orange. Damn! What kind of candy was this? They tasted terrible!
Still, ever onward we ate. I cannot for the life of me tell you what we were thinking. Having already established that they tasted bad, why eat more?
Almost the Last Supper
You know where this is going. I don't really remember too much else. My brother's voice calling me home for dinner. The walk down the block, not feeling so good. Sitting down at the dinner table and my mother looking at me and saying, “Chris...are you alright?” What I was told later was that at that point, my eyes rolled back in my head and I fell out of the chair in a stupor, like a 6 year-old drug addict finally hitting rock bottom, my tragic downward spiral of drug addiction--from the first gateway drug (a red one) to the hard stuff (an orange one)--lasting a whole 15 minutes. I was rushed to the hospital, my stomach was pumped, and I lived thanks to being called home for dinner.
My parents didn't sue. They weren't the suing type. Their attitude was that I had done a pretty stupid thing and what the heck was I doing eating stuff out of a garbage can anyway? The neighbor felt absolutely horrible about it and I think he still got into some trouble—reprimanded by the police and the company he worked for—but not on account of my parents. If they had sued it would have ruined that family's life. That's the problem nowadays. Nobody gives a rat's ass about the other guy so long as they stuff their own pockets with money. Incidentally, the kid next door had almost exactly the same reaction and experience and his parents didn't sue either.
Frivolous lawsuits are growing menace to doctors, insurance companies, corporations, businesses, and writers as well. And frivolous lawsuits and out of control lawyers harm every American, raising the cost of insurance, medical care, products and further stretching our already over-taxed legal system. That is why frivolous lawsuits piss me off. There are literally hundreds to choose from, but here are my five favorite dumb lawsuits. Incredible as they may seem, they are actual suits filed in a court of law. Read 'em, get pissed off, and laugh at what fools we have become.
A fella by the name of Kenneth Parker ordered two jars of chunky peanut butter. To his dismay, he received one jar of chunky and one jar of creamy. What's a peanut butter loving guy supposed to do when confronted with such incompetence and impertinence? Why, sue the state of Nevada, of course. Why the state of Nevada? Because he was incarcerated in their penal system at the time and had ordered the peanut butter (I said chunky, damn it!) from the prison kitchen.
I've been trying to spread this one on my sandwich. What was he going to do with that peanut butter? Wouldn't the creamy be better for that? Maybe the chunky has a “French tickler” effect or he just likes it rough. No word on whether his suit was successful. Hopefully the case was thrown out in a “Jif”.
This Buds for You
When I choose a beer I don't choose it because of its taste, but because of its advertising. I know if I drink the right brand I'll be living the good life, full of exciting things, lots of attractive friends, and boodles of beautiful women. One man thought so and sued Anheuser Busch for false advertising. The guy couldn't have been that stupid, so he must have been figuring on some easy money, and don't forget, a lawyer agreed.
When those bikini-clad girls failed to materialize and oil wrestle right in front of his very eyes there was a little sound inside his head, a small, desperate snap - or maybe it was the ching of a cash register. Fortunately, the judge was of sound mind and threw the case out.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
Just about everyone has had a relationship go bad where you just had to get out of it. The earlier, the better. If, however, you come to this realization late in the relationship, say, after you are engaged, it's still better to put it out of its misery before the wedding. Isn't it? Not for one man, it wasn't. He broke off his seven-week engagement and she didn't like it. She didn't like it at all, so she sued him and she sued him good.
She won. $178,000 dollars. The jury awarded her $93,000 for pain and suffering: $25,000 for her psychiatrist, and $60,000 for loss of income from...you're gonna love this—her legal practice! She was herself a lawyer! She took the break-up hard. If the guy knew she took things that hard he might gone through with the wedding.
Ride the Wave, Dude
Picture this. You're on the beach and it's a bitchin' day, man, and the surf is choka and you're amped, man, and you know the big one's gonna come today and you're not gonna be a frube or clucked, no, you're gonna ride that sucker so all the Gidgets will see and just when you're ready to catch it and hang 10, some jerk DROPS IN! Yea. He steals your wave! Oh the humanity! What's a surfer dude to do?
Well this surfer dude sued the wave-stealer surfer dude for pain and suffering for “taking his wave.” True. Fortunately, no one could decide just how much pain and suffering their was in watching your wave—sent to you personally by the volcano Gods—being ridden by some other surfer, so the case was dismissed. And the other guy got all the Gidgets, too.
Suddenly He Liked Barbara Striesand
In Michigan, a 27 year-old man was involved in a rear-end collision. He only suffered minor injuries. Four years later he changed his mind and sued the owners of the truck that hit him. He now claimed that the accident caused his sexual relations with his wife to deteriorate and he was unable to maintain their sex life. The crash had changed his personality forever, he said, and in fact, the collision had turned him into a homosexual. He left his wife, moved in with his parents, began hanging out in gay bars, and became a fervent reader of gay literature. So, he got rear-ended and then he got rear-ended. He won his case and was awarded $200,000 dollars. The jury threw in $25,000 thousand for the wife.
And Thomas Jefferson Wept
When these kinds of cases clog up our legal system, when people bring these stupid lawsuits, when lawyers actually bring the cases to court and win, something is seriously messed up. And in the end, if you are sued and win, you have still spent a fortune, so you're darn near ruined one way or the other. I think when these people bring these frivilous lawsuits and lose, they should be punished and punished with impunity. The lawyers even more so. Maybe then people will think twice before using the courts to ransack sombody's bank account.
Or maybe I feel that way because I'm not getting in on the action. I'm not riding the gravy train. The money is just growing on trees out there in the land of legal make-believe and all I gotta do is pick it off.
You can do it too. We both can do it. All we need is something to sue about, and there are no reasons too absurd or too hurtful. There's a pot of gold at the end of the justice system rainbow and I'm gonna be there. I'm only missing one thing: Anybody know a good shyster lawyer?